Buildings are still largely occupied, and the backlog of construction work is rapidly shrinking. Here are three ways to ensure your firm continues to thrive in 2021.



If you’ve been following this column over the past several months, you’ve probably noticed I’ve consistently encouraged owners to deliver owner-direct solutions. With the state of the world right now, engineers should focus on owners and, more importantly, governmental owners with hard assets. 

I recommend you offer a site analysis service, which I recently discussed in our Smart Buildings Academy Podcast. Basically, you offer a near-free or at-cost site analysis. Your discoveries can then be turned into actionable engineering work in the form of facility improvement or energy conservation measures. 

You can then use this list to build out a plan of retrofit actions that can be funded. Speaking of funding, let’s discuss the state of the U.S. market. Cash is ridiculously cheap right now. As a business owner, our organization receives weekly funding offers. If a customer is cash constrained and you can prove a return on investment, you can assist them by using the historically low cost of cash to implement changes within their facilities.



When I say services, I’m referring to reoccurring revenue streams. Focus on creating a stream of cash. You can use services, like remote site analysis, energy manager as a service, etc., to drive reoccurring revenue that is funded via operational budgets. Now, if done correctly, these services will not only provide value but will feed into the list of action items you’re developing in step one. Ultimately, the cycle of life is that you develop an alternate channel outside of the construction market and use that channel to drive owner-direct work and services. 

Once you’ve established a solid service relationship with your customers, you can use that service relationship to sustain your business.



It’s crucial that you understand the key players in the market and the services they’re pushing. From a building automation perspective, expect to see a return of embedded controllers and smart equipment and a rise of digital twins, data as a service, and analytics.

The traditional approach to Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)-driven prescriptive specifications does not lend itself to supporting these solutions, which are often iterative and require a deep understanding of site conditions — all of which enable a forward-thinking engineering firm to provide owner-direct consultative services.

Pay attention to developing alternate channels, as it’s just a matter of time until the construction industry contracts. Be prepared.